José Andrés Turns D.C. and New York Restaurants into Community Kitchens

In response to the coronavirus outbreak, ThinkFoodGroup announced the restaurants would temporarily close and be repurposed.

Jaleo Jose Andres closure coronavirus
Photo: Greg Powers

José Andrés is one of the latest chefs to shutter his restaurants out of concern for coronavirus, or COVID-19, with many more following as official mandates take effect across the country.

On March 15, his restaurant group, ThinkFoodGroup, released a statement explaining that all restaurants in the Washington, D.C. area and New York City will temporarily close to help encourage social distancing. In the meantime, many of the restaurants will be re-purposed as community kitchens. Since the announcement, both New York City and Washington, D.C. have mandated the closure of all bars and restaurants.

"We are in a serious global emergency and people need to take every precaution, including staying home as much as possible," Andrés said in a statement. "However, we also want to help provide food for those who want it in a safe manner, so we feel these community kitchens can help during this challenging time. And those who cannot afford to pay we will welcome as well."

TFG employees will receive paid leave and current health benefits "for at least the first two weeks," according to the announcement. As for the kitchens, they're scheduled to open on March 17 and will be operated out of the restaurants' side doors. Volunteers will be on hand between 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. daily to serve "affordable plates of the day" available for takeout—specific menus and pricing are still in the works, according to the ThinkFoodGroup team.

The following restaurants in D.C. will be converted into community kitchens: America Eats Tavern (Georgetown), Jaleo (Bethesda), Jaleo (Crystal City), Jaleo (Penn Quarter), Oyamel (Penn Quarter), and Zaytina (Penn Quarter). Beefsteak, Andrés' fast-casual restaurant, will also convert to delivery-only at D.C.-area locations, while Pepe Food Truck in D.C. will remain open.

Read more: The F&W Pro Guide to Coronavirus

China Chilcano, however, will be fully closed, as it does not have enough outdoor space to operate a community kitchen. Minibar and barmini also shuttered after service ended on March 14—guests with existing reservations will be contacted to rebook and deposits will be refunded, according to the announcement. In New York, most of Mercado Little Little Spain at Hudson Yards will be closed except for Spanish Diner, which will operate a community kitchen from the glass garage doors. You can find more information available on ThinkFoodGroup's website.

Last week, Danny Meyer announced that all 19 Union Square Hospitality Group restaurants would shut down indefinitely; on the same day, Eric Ripert also tweeted that Le Bernardin would close for two weeks. And on March 14, David Chang followed suit as well, announcing that all Momofuku restaurants in New York, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles will be closed until further notice. Now, delivery and carryout services will be the only options in multiple states for weeks to come: see the full list of states with official restaurant and bar closures.

Stay tuned as we provide continuing coverage.

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